Knowing the right people is one business value that doesn’t change with the times. Vice President Joe Biden hit Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood in February, attending a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee at the Bachelor Farmer. The Nordic-themed restaurant is popular with the White House: President Barack Obama also held a campaign event there in June 2012.
Bachelor Farmer is owned by Eric and Andrew Dayton, sons of Gov. Mark Dayton, who served in the Senate with Obama. Do political connections give the Dayton brothers a leg up over the rest of the Twin Cities hospitality industry in landing top-shelf campaign events?
”I couldn’t say what impact it had on their decision,” says Eric Dayton, who noted that his father introduced the president at the 2012 event, but did not attend the Biden event because he was recovering from hip surgery.
“We were compensated as we would be with a private event,” Dayton notes. “This isn’t a political statement by the restaurant. It wasn’t the restaurant donating to the DNC or the Obama campaign.”
When it pitched Bachelor Farmer for the president’s visit, the 94-seat restaurant expected to lose out to a big hotel ballroom. “It turned out they thought it was a good fit,” Dayton says. “Having done one event that went well, that’s perhaps why they thought of us for the vice president’s visit.”
Politics aside, the restaurant has earned plaudits since opening in August 2011. Chef Paul Berglund was nominated for a James Beard Award, to be judged later in spring.
Keith Downey, chair of Minnesota’s Republican Party, isn’t losing any sleep over the events at Bachelor Farmer.
“I think people are going to choose to hold events at places they’re comfortable,” says Downey. “I certainly wouldn’t make any issue out of holding a fundraiser.”
Hosting White House-level visits does make for some unique anecdotes. After the president departed Bachelor Farmer, Dayton recalls two guys “in pretty serious military uniforms” coming down from the roof: “They just kind of nodded and walked out.”